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Victory for Voters: Court Blocks Controversial Indiana Law that Could Purge Eligible Voters

The decision is a strong statement against officials who want to use a notoriously error-prone system to hastily and irresponsibly purge people from the rolls.

June 8, 2018

New York, N.Y. –  Today the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, repres­ent­ing the Indi­ana NAACP and the Indi­ana League of Women Voters, won a court case to tempor­ar­ily halt an Indi­ana law that would have ignored required federal safe­guards for voters, and would have illeg­ally removed indi­vidu­als from voter rolls in the state. The law was feared to be imple­men­ted before the Novem­ber elec­tions, but now will be on hold in light of today’s decision by the U.S. District Court in Indi­ana­polis.  

“This is a big victory for voters in Indi­ana, and a strong state­ment against offi­cials who want to use a notori­ously error-prone system to hast­ily and irre­spons­ibly purge people from the rolls,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elec­tions Project at the Bren­nan Center and the organ­iz­a­tion’s lead attor­ney on the case.

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision, which will protect Hoosiers against discrim­in­a­tion and disen­fran­chise­ment,” said Barbara Bolling-Willi­ams, Pres­id­ent of the Indi­ana State Confer­ence of the NAACP. “We commend our attor­neys for their work defend­ing the rights of voters in Indi­ana.”

“Today’s ruling helps ensure that eligible voters will be able to cast ballots in Novem­ber,” said Patsy Hoyer and Oscar Ander­son, Co-pres­id­ents of the Indi­ana League of Women Voters. “Main­tain­ing voter lists is import­ant, but it must be done in a respons­ible way and in compli­ance with the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act.”

Advoc­ates filed the lawsuit against Secret­ary of State Connie Lawson and the Indi­ana Elec­tion Divi­sion last year. The Indi­ana NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Indi­ana are being repres­en­ted in the case by the Bren­nan Center, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sulli­van, LLP, and Trent A. McCain of McCain Law Offices, P.C. Attor­neys repres­ent­ing Common Cause Indi­ana filed a similar lawsuit against the same bad prac­tice which was also addressed by the Court today. 
 
The plaintiffs argue that Indi­ana’s law, passed during the state’s 2017 legis­lat­ive session, viol­ates the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act (NVRA), which is the federal law that guards voters against erro­neous removals from the voter rolls. Known as “Motor-Voter,” the NVRA sets clear proced­ures offi­cials must follow before delet­ing a voter believed to have moved from one juris­dic­tion to another from the rolls. 

Indi­ana’s new law ignores these import­ant protec­tions by allow­ing elec­tion offi­cials to imme­di­ately remove voters if the Inter­state Voter Regis­tra­tion Crosscheck system iden­ti­fies them as registered in another state and addi­tional data selec­ted by Hoosier State offi­cials also matches. The Crosscheck system has resul­ted in wrong­ful removals when used else­where, often based on loose criteria such as match­ing a first name, last name, and date of birth alone. The lawsuit notes that in Virginia, Crosscheck had error rates as high as 17 percent.
 
For a full break­down of the case, read a Q&A here by Myrna Pérez. And for more on the case, click here.

For more inform­a­tion or to connect with a Bren­nan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at Rebecca.Autrey@nyu.edu or 646–292–8316.
 
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